COUNCILLORS in Limerick were paid more than €1.3m in allowances and expenses in 2010, new figures show.
According to statistics released under the Freedom of Information Act, the 17-member Limerick City Council paid out a total of €544,455.
Meanwhile, Limerick County Council, which has 28 members, paid out some €831,000.
The top claimant for 2010 in County Limerick was Cathaoirleach Richard Butler, who took home some €51,752 according to the figures, while former mayor Cllr Kevin Kiely claimed some €51,811.17 in the city.
Both politicians have defended their pay, but the chief executive of the Limerick Chamber says the remuneration to councillors calls into question the current local government set-up, with businesses struggling to pay their rates.
According to departmental rules, each councillor is entitled to receive a representative payment of €16,500 per year, and they are also entitled to claim a number of other expenses and allowances relating to their role as a public representative.
There is also an annual allowance of up to €4,700 for attending conferences - but this amount has been dramatically cut back in recent years.
Councillors elected to chair special policy committees receive an additional payment of €6,000 per year, and the chairman of Limerick County Council, plus the Mayor of Limerick each get additional allowances relating to their respective roles.